Peer pressure is among the major factors that contribute to substance abuse and, eventually, to addiction. To this end, parents, schools, teachers, and other figures of authority need to engage in comprehensive alcohol and drug prevention and education.
Without this kind of education, children, the youth, and other persons prone to addiction would give in the insidious influences that seem to condone or encourage substance abuse.
Today, the actions of adults and older children, the mass media (television, movies, and the internet), musicians, movie stars, sports figures, and others portray substance abuse, the consumption of alcohol, and drug taking as norms rather than exceptions. As such, the young at heart and mind end up thinking that they can still engage in these actions and still remain productive or even become successful with no consequences.
However, these influences are far from what is true. In fact, such influences might be the sole reason why your teen eventually starts abusing drugs and other addictive substances.
Luckily, educators are now working on finding effective drug prevention and education curriculum that is comprehensive, simple, and - above all - efficient enough to achieve the desired results. These results simply mean that fewer younger people will be tempted to use drugs or drink alcohol.
In this guide, we will delve into drug prevention and education, what it is, what should be included (or is included) in such programs, and more. Read on to educate yourself:
There are several key concepts that should be included in any drug prevention and education program. These key concepts will go a long way in ensuring that the target audience gets to understand and accept the teachings, as well as influence them to positively make more educated choices where drugs and alcohol are concerned.
Where the audience is comprised of the young, the drug prevention and education should ensure that they end up knowing that the risks and dangers of drinking alcohol and using drugs far outweigh what they might think are benefits.
Similarly, the program should inform the audience that the people who offer to sell joints, share beer, or give them prescription pills will not inform them of the risks, effects, and harms that come with substance use and the resultant dependency and addiction.
Overall, drug education ought to fill this void with highly specific and accurate information about the effects and risks of alcohol and drug use. It should also be presented in a manner that the audience will believe, internalize, accept, and - eventually - adopt.
In most cases, the young tend to find drug abuse appealing. This is particularly so because such abuse seems like it is a means to an end - with the end being the myth that taking drugs and drinking alcohol solves problems.
These problems might be inability to fit in, shyness, stress arising from family, school, and social situations, lack of excitement or adventure, or even boredom - among many others.
To ensure that the youth do not go down this dangerous path, it is imperative that drug prevention and education programs help them understand the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse in terms that they can associate with. In the same way, the education should offer alternatives to the type of escape that the audience thinks they will derive when they start abusing addictive substances.
Additionally, this type of education should assume that the youth are able to understand all the issues covered in the program, and that they can be taught to make more informed decisions about substance abuse.
Education programs dedicated to improving awareness about substance abuse are a vital part of helping target audiences understand the various aspects relating to addictive drugs and alcohol.
Through such programs, audiences will get to learn from the factual data presented about the meaning of substance abuse, the warning signs of dependency and addiction, the effects of addictive substances on the body and the mind, as well as the various harmful consequences of addiction on mental and physical health, on family, on relationships, and on a variety of other areas of normal functioning.
Additionally, the drug prevention and education program must include information on how the audience should deal with friends and family members who are struggling with substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders, as well as on how to remain supportive during the intervention, detox, and rehabilitation process.
It might also help if the program includes counseling education - which would help everyone involved (including the addict or substance abuser as well as their friends and members of their family).
It is also vital that everyone who has already started abusing drugs and alcohol to be aware of how these substances might affect their functioning, relationships, bodies, and minds.
Through this awareness, those concerned will be better placed to realize that drugs and alcohol come with a real potential for serious damage. Last but not least, the drug prevention and education program should include information about addiction treatment, detoxification, and rehabilitation, what is involved, and how to prepare for the journey to sobriety and full recovery from substance abuse.
So, do drug prevention and education campaigns work? Exactly how effective are these programs at promoting the prevention of active substance abuse? Can you count on them to help people understand addiction, dependency, and all the other situations arising from drug and alcohol abuse?
Today, numerous studies show that drug prevention and education programs are quite effective. However, there is a catch - they must be implemented properly and based on scientific research.
This is because research-based drug education programs are often rooted in empirical and scientific evidence. They have also been thoroughly tested and shown to be effective at significantly reducing substance abuse thoughts and behaviors - including the use of alcohol, nicotine, and other addictive substances.
Most of these programs are designed to boost protective and preventative measures. In the process, they decrease the likelihood that those in the target audience will have issues with substance abuse both in the present and in the future.
At the same time, these programs are quite effective at reducing the impact of the various risk factors that tend to make people more susceptible to the lure and attraction of addictive substances.
In particular, it is especially important that school include drug prevention and education in their curricular. This is because only such an inclusion would contribute to positively helping the students to ensure that they do not try drugs or alcohol. It will also reduce the risk that the educated students will develop substance use disorders later on in their lives.
That said, this type of education can be effectively started even as early as preschool. In the process, it will reduce the impact that the various risk factors of substance abuse will affect the children in the decisions they will make in the future - particularly during the often turbulent years of adolescence where most substance use disorders tend to begin. Of course, this means that the material should be adjusted until it is age appropriate for the audience.
That said, recent research shows that there have been drops in tobacco, alcohol, and substance abuse among American teens in grades 12, 10, and 8. In 2015, for instance, the cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking were at their record low - the lowest they have been at since 1975.
On the other hand, the use of such drugs as MDMA (Molly or ecstasy), amphetamines, synthetic marijuana (spice or K2), crack cocaine, hallucinogens, bath salts, and prescription drugs has declined among American students in grades 12, 10, and 8. Similarly, the rates of binge drinking among American students have significantly dropped during the same time while marijuana rates remained more or less the same since 2010.
This drop - which has been universal in nature - is now attributed to the increase in prevention programming after it was incorporated into the American school curriculum. Today, drug prevention and education continues to deter students from trying tobacco, alcohol, and illicit substances.
In particular, this type of education is especially vital where newer designer drugs - such as bath salts (like synthetic cathinones) and synthetic marijuana (K2 and spice) - are concerned. This is because such drugs are often marketed as relatively harmless even though they are incredibly dangerous and come with unpredictable results and effects.
That said, for drug education campaigns to be effective, it is imperative that they should be ongoing and come with recurring programming to ensure that the original prevention message is reinforced and fortified.
This is because studies and research findings now show that the lack of follow-up programming tends to reduce the benefits that are associated with these drug prevention and education campaigns.
Additionally, you should keep in mind that interactive prevention programming tends to generate the best outcomes. This is because it allows participants and audiences to play active roles in their substance abuse education as well as ensuring that they develop better prevention skills. This is particularly so in the case of discussion groups and role playing where peers contribute to their own education.
Where these types of education campaigns have been implemented, they have been found to be not only effective but also to reduce the cost of substance use disorders both in the present and in the future. Additionally, the studies show that every dollar that is allocated towards drug prevention and education generates a ten-fold saving with respect to treatment and rehabilitation for substance use disorders, co-occurring disorders, and addiction.
That said, one of the primary focuses of drug prevention and education involves teaching the audience about alcohol and drug abuse, how to avoid it, how to stop it, as well as how to get help for addiction and substance use disorders. This focus can easily start at a relatively young age to better prepare the audience for adulthood.
This type of education can start with parents and guardians educating their young ones, as well as in school programming to increase knowledge and awareness about substance abuse and all associated risks. For teens, drug prevention and education is usually incorporated into the school curriculum.
If you are an adult looking to learn more about drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, you can attend group meetings and classes, or even research information over the internet, find out as much as you can on the substance, and then share what you learned with your children.
At the end of the day, it is imperative that you remember that drug prevention and education is essential for teens, children, and adults alike. This is mostly because there are so many misconceptions about most of the commonly abused illegal and legal substances - particularly tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol.
By ensuring that your children are well educated about alcohol and other addictive substances, you may be to contribute to helping to protect them from using these drugs. This is particularly so for those addictive substances that seem relatively harmless but which are very dangerous or addictive to the body and mind.
Through an improvement of your understanding of the repercussions and dangers of substance use, you will be better placed to glean relevant information that you can share with children and the easily impressionable - such as undecided adults and growing teenagers. This may prevent drug abuse and addiction from arising in the future.
At the end of the day, you should keep in mind that knowledge is power. With accurate information about the topic, the target audience - be it a colleague, a teen, a friend, or even a child - will be more likely to make informed and fact-based decisions when they are tempted or coerced to use drugs or start drinking alcohol.
During the drug prevention and education regimen, every drug should be covered. This is regardless of the perceived risk of danger or harm or the strength of the addictive substance.
In particular, you should keep in mind that methamphetamine, cocaine, and opioids are often viewed as hard drugs with serious consequences while such 'minor' drugs as alcohol and marijuana are taken less seriously but still come with the potential for abuse and addiction.
The audience (irrespective of the age), therefore, should be made aware that alcohol and all types of drugs come with the potential for damage and serious threats to the mind and body, as well as normal functioning, productivity, and relationships.
Luckily, even you can engage in drug prevention and education at home on account of the fact that there are so many resources available on the subject of addiction and substance abuse over the internet.
This means that you have unlimited access to information and knowledge about alcohol and drugs. If you are planning to start teaching substance abuse education courses to a group of adults or even to deliver school presentations for teens and children, therefore, you should ensure that you are well informed and that your information is verified to be true and accurate.
There are tons of reliable and information sources of substance use education available over the internet. In the following segment, you will find a comprehensive list of some of the most trusted sources that you can access when you need to learn more about drug prevention and education:
This is the official website of a popular national drug prevention and education campaign. The program was developed through the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign to encourage teens to resist the temptation to give in to any negative influence or peer pressure that might cause them to start abusing addictive substances such as alcohol or marijuana.
This website provides comprehensive information about the proper use, disposal, and storage of prescription drugs, as well as about preventing the abuse of these drugs. It also lists most of the prescription medication awareness events that are scheduled to occur all through the United States.
This government website provides a variety of resources - such as community outreach information, as well as links to useful websites and publications regarding drug prevention and education.
This site provides surveys for Americans in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. In the process, it generates the latest statistics on teenage drug, tobacco, and alcohol use and abuse. It also analyzes the results to determine the most current trends in comparison to results from previous years.
This website provides comprehensive information on drug and alcohol abuse, as well as its prevention, for persons of all ages. It also offers family checkup questionnaires that parents can use to improve their parenting skills and educate themselves on how to prevent future alcohol and substance use among their children and teenagers.
An offshoot of the NIDA website listed above, NIDA for Teens provides actionable knowledge and information but which is targeted at teenagers. The information is provided in an interesting, interactive, and easy-to-understand way - one that easily appeals to the youth of all ages.
This NIDA publication provides highly comprehensive and easy-to-understand information on drug prevention and education. It also goes so far as to address protective and risk factors, community-based drug and alcohol prevention, as well as how to incorporate the basic principles of drug/alcohol prevention into these programs.
The online publication also provides great examples of some of the most effective evidence-based drug prevention and education programs.
The official SAMHSA website contains a great wealth of information and knowledge about substance use disorders, addiction, drug prevention and education, and addiction treatment.
Additionally, this website addresses some basic and comprehensive prevention programming at different levels - including community, family, and school settings - as well as providing more information about protective ad risk factors and evidence-based prevention strategies and practices.
This educational program was funded by SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). It is aimed at sparking conversations between adolescents and adults about the harms and risks of underage alcohol consumption.
This website also serves to increase awareness on the subject of underage drinking, while also portraying it as a detrimental and harmful thing. It additionally offers different resources for community leaders, teachers, families, teens, and children - providing different resources and information for each of these groups.
This government website provides information about drug prevention and education, in addition to links on every aspect of such prevention - including but not limited to websites, training resources, research, publications, programs, and articles on the subject.
There are tons of other substance abuse prevention resources available over the internet. As such, you need to be careful about the information you read - not everything is entirely true or reliable.
As far as possible, therefore, always opt for government, state, and community resources. They tend to contain the most effective, up-to-date research based information on drug prevention and education.
Research shows that adolescence might be the best time to prevent drug and alcohol addiction. This is because the early use of these substances tends to increase the risk that the affected individual will eventually develop an addiction.
As you might already be aware, drugs and alcohol tend to change the brain. This may eventually lead to other serious problems - the chief of which is addiction. Therefore, preventing young people from the early use of such addictive substances might go a long way in reducing the risk they encounter.
The risk of drug and alcohol abuse also tends to increase during times of transition. For instance, adults who go through a divorce or lose their jobs (or alternative source of income) may resort to drug taking and alcohol consumption.
For teens, however, the riskiest times happen when they change schools, move homes, or encounter hardships in their personal lives. During the years of early adolescences, children advance from elementary all the way to middle school. In the process, they face challenging and new academic and social situations.
In most cases, it is during this period that they first become exposed to substances that they can abuse - such as alcohol and cigarettes. During the high school years, they may also find that drug abuse is more prevalent - particularly among their elder schoolmates - and that there are more social activities where people are using drugs and drinking alcohol.
At the same time, most of the behaviors that are quite normal to human development - such as the desire to take greater risks or try new things - might increase their tendencies to experiment with alcohol and drugs.
Some of them may even give in to the pressure (or urging) from their friends who are already using and be tempted to try sharing the experience with them. Others might start thinking that taking such drugs as steroids will improve their athletic performance or appearance, or even that when they abuse substances like MDMA (Molly or ecstasy) and alcohol will ease the anxiety they feel in awkward social situations.
Another segment of teens tend to start abusing prescription ADHD stimulants like Adderall when they need help with losing weight or while studying. This is even if they find out that the drugs are not quite as effective for these purposes.
Since teenagers are still developing their decision making and judgment skills, it is highly likely that this may limit their ability to fairly, accurately, and maturely assess the risks and dangers that may arise from all these types of drug and alcohol abuse.
For instance, they might not be able to understand that using these substances at such an early age may disrupt how their brain functions - including those areas of the brain that are critical to behavior control, judgment, learning, memory, and motivation.
To this end, it is not quite surprising to discover that most adolescents who use addictive substances like alcohol tend to have so many social and family problems, health-related problems (including poor mental health), poor academic performance, or even involvement with the justice (juvenile) system.
Most drug prevention and education programs are research-based. This means that they have been designed rationally based on current empirical and scientific evidences, that they have been tested rigorously, and that they are shown to produce very positive results.
That said, scientists continue developing a wide variety of programs to positively alter the balance between protective and risk factors for drug and alcohol abuse in communities, schools, and families.
Studies also show that most of these research-based drug prevention and education - such as those developed by NIDA - are quite effective at significantly reducing the instances of early illicit drug, alcohol, and tobacco use among teens.
In most cases, these programs are designed to boost known protective factors while simultaneously reducing or eliminating risk factors for alcohol and drug use. They are further designed for different age groups and many be targeted at specific group or individual settings - such as the home and the school environment.
That said, there are 3 main types of drug prevention and education programs:
Universal drug prevention and education programs are designed to address the protective and risk factors that are common to all children and young people in a particular setting - such as a community or a school.
Selective drug prevention and education programs, on the other hand, only target those teens and children who are affected by factors that might increase their risk of abusing these addictive substances in the present or in the future.
Last but not least, indicated drug prevention and education programs are designed to help young people and teens who have already started abusing addictive substances like alcohol or marijuana, among other drugs.
However, you might still be interested in finding out whether every prevention program is effective at helping to reduce alcohol and drug abuse. In most cases, you will find that when research-based programs are properly implemented by parents, families, communities, and schools, they are quite effective at reducing the use of illegal drugs, tobacco, and alcohol.
This is because these types of programs are effective at helping health care professionals, parents, and teachers shape the perception of the youth in their charge about the risks, dangers, and harms of substance abuse.
In the same way, while many cultural and social factors might affect the trends of alcohol and drug abuse, young people are better able to reduce the danger and opportunities that they will use when they are taught to perceive drug/alcohol abuse as harmful.
At the end of the day, drug prevention and education is the best strategy. However, you - as a parent, community leader, educator, mentor, or sibling - need principles that can help you think about, start planning for, and eventually deliver the best prevention programs.
Consider some of the following:
At the end of the day, it is imperative that you understand that drug prevention and education programs are critical to the physical and behavioral health of the target audience.
To this end, symptoms and behaviors that signal that anyone in the target audience has developed a problem means that you should intervene. However, in most cases, you will find that taking positive steps to prevent such a problem from happening in the first place is the most effective way to ensure that no one you are responsible for (your child, student, church member, mentee, sibling, and so on) is the most effective way to protect them against the ravages, risks, and harms of substance abuse and addiction. This is why drug prevention and education programs are so important.